The White Marl area in St. Catherine holds significance for more than its archaeological importance. White Marl Primary & Infant School is uniquely nestled adjacent to the archaeological gem the Arawak Museum, in Central Village.
On November 5th, the school received a ‘Big Switch On’ from the UK-based World Food brand Tropical Sun Foods. The company donated seven new Hewlett Packard laptops to the school. In effect, the laptops represent the focus of Tropical Sun Foods to help close the learning gap for the students. Together with the school’s Principal, notable attendees took the opportunity to support the commemorative occasion.
In his address, His Excellency Seth George Ramocan, Jamaica High Commissioner to the UK, highlighted the collaboration across the diaspora toward the school fulfiling its mandate of empowering each child’s ability to be a GEM (Gifted, Excellent, Masterpiece).
A Lasting Partnership with Tropical Sun Foods
Mr Ian Forbes, the school’s Board Chairman, spoke about the impact of the donation and the longstanding relationship between the school and Tropical Sun Foods.
The COVID-19 impact on the school population has been significant, with many students not having access to an adequate education. Subsequently, Mr Forbes spoke further about the negative impact the school felt during this pandemic. “The uptake with respect to the virtual space has been very poor. I think the highest we have had is just under fifty per cent and in some instances 20 plus per cent.”
He went on to explain the measures that the Principal had to implement to try and get the schoolwork out to the students. “The Principal going out in the hills and valley’s on a motorcycle, based on the terrain, as the most convenient mode of transportation. In trying to reach them, he has to be out there, and the teachers have to be innovative.” The school’s desire now is to improve access to devices for its students and also improve the internet connectivity at the school.
In talking about the impact the donation of the laptops will have now, Mr Forbes had this to say; “It will impact significantly, in a positive way. Our students will have access to the devices… This [donation] will also enable our teachers to function because they’re also in need of devices. So it’s a ‘win-win’ situation all-round.”
The Hon. Fayval Williams, Minister of Education, Youth & Information (MOEYI) and Dr Kasan Troupe, Acting Chief Education Officer in the MOEYI, brought greetings remotely. Minister Williams expressed joy at the generosity of Tropical Sun Foods. She also extended her thanks to the diaspora for helping meet the students’ learning needs through donations. Additionally, the Minister shared that plans are underway to provide solutions to the connectivity issues faced at schools.
The Community of Support
Councillor Ms Keisha Lewis offered greetings on behalf of the Member of Parliament, Hon. Denise Daley. Representatives of Tropical Sun Foods, Mr Paul Harrison, Head of Community and Sinan Jefferies, Brand Manager, expressed their gratitude to all the extraordinary partners of this venture. They joined remotely from the UK. By the same token, several students, teachers and members of the school administration were also in attendance. At the beginning of the event, Bishop Selvin Gutzmer of the USA offered a dedication prayer.
Undoubtedly, Tropical Sun Foods and the school possess a shared vision for the education and development of the students. Principal of White Marl Primary & Infant School, Mr Milton Brown, enthusiastically describes this relationship as he explains the U.P.G.E.M.S. The significance of this acronym easily represents the galvanised partnership between the school and the empowering and supportive company.
Search & Rescue Mission Is On For GEM Students
The harsh impact of the education engagement gap has resulted in a significant reduction in the engagement rate at the school. With this in mind, the team embarked on a search and rescue mission to recover their lost students by any means necessary.
Each student at White Marl Primary & Infant School knows that they are a unique GEM. They are worthy of being searched for and mined. The Principal indicated that by donating these new laptops, the school is becoming better positioned to reach more of its student GEMS simultaneously. Moreover, the new laptops are portals that will facilitate teaching in a hybrid manner. The school will move closer to providing face to face engagement while concurrently teaching online students.
The transformation of an individual begins in the mind. Each student and team member at White Marl Primary & Junior School is a precious GEM. Every GEM is a Gifted, Excellent, Masterpiece of God. Mr Brown talks about the genesis of GEM and the infusion of this transformative message throughout the school.
A few student GEMS shared songs while grade three student Nathan Downer shared a poem, Proud Black. On behalf of the students, Nathan expressed thanks for the needed laptops, donated to his school by their extended family at Tropical Sun Foods.